MAGOHA’S “UNUSUAL” DECISIONS ON THE SPOTLIGHT AS INTERNATIONAL MEDIA DIGS IN
Kenya happens to be the only country that has offered a rather unusual solution to the school problem amid coronavirus pandemic; postponing national exams, scrapping off an entire academic year.
According to a US-based magazine dubbed the New York Times, all the other nations have found creative solutions on how to navigate through the pandemic while averting an academic crisis.
With most private schools facing closure, opulent parents have opted to transfer their children to British, French or other foreign curriculum-based institutions that will offer learners standardized foreign tests at the end of the “lost year.”
The international media has joined some Kenyan education experts to question the wisdom behind postponing national exams and canceling an entire academic year.
“The academic year 2020 is hereby considered lost. There will be no national exams in 2020,” announced CS Magoha after holding several consultative meetings with key stakeholders in the Kenyan education sector.
Following this announcement, a US-based leading newspaper known as the New York Times has poked holes into the education ministry questioning some of the decisions that are likely to propel an imminent academic crisis.
Through an article dubbed “Kenya’s Unusual Solution to the School Problem: Cancel the Year and Start Over” published on Thursday, August 6, 2020, the author stated that education experts in Kenya believe that the country is the only nation that has canceled its entire academic year whereas others have circumvented around the Covid-19 pandemic to find solutions to avert an academic crisis.
“Kenyan education experts said that while the goal of canceling the entire school year is to level the playing field, it might just widen these already-existing gaps. Once schools reopen, two sets of students (ones who had access to technology and those who did not) will not be on the same level or able to compete equally in national exams,” reads the article in part.
The article further faults the country’s e-learning systems and lessons taught via radio and televisions arguing that it greatly disadvantages learners from marginalized backgrounds.
Besides, most affluent parents have opted to enroll their children for international curriculums such as British and French which will see them proceed to the next level by offering standardized tests at the end of the year.
According to the Economist, scrapping an entire academic year leaves the majority of the learners idle.
On Thursday August 6, 2020, the CS declined to give a go-ahead for KNEC to set KCSE and KCPE national exams from the already- covered syllabus to allow candidates proceed to the next levels.
He further hinted to a possible extended closure of schools beyond January 2021 citing a possible surge of covid-19 cases.
“Decisions regarding reopening of learning institutions may change as informed by prevailing circumstances and increased knowledge of Covid-19. If we open in January and there is a surge, we will step down and observe the trends. People have tried to open, like South Africa, and have shut again,” cautioned Magoha
The CS reiterated that Kenya will only allow learners to resume learning when the curve flattens for 14 consecutive days.